When People for the Ethical Treatment of Pumpkins gets on the case, Big Dance Theater's "Ich, KurbisGeist" is sure to be Exhibit A. Brilliant actor/director Paul Lazar and choreographer Annie-B Parson, with writer Sibyl Kempson, create "an old-tyme agricultural vengeance play for Halloween," in which the squeals of the round orange victims resound in barns and fields, and ghosts of Jack o' Lanterns past haunt a whole town.
Thirty spectators sit on swivel chairs in the center of a grotty basement, while scenes from this twisted pumpkin pageant unfurl against all four surrounding walls. The theater becomes an incredibly focused Halloween environment, with old coots and pretty young things muttering in Kempson's barely understandable pre-Scandinavian tongue, hinting occasionally at intelligible English. But the tongue is always in cheek; events turn from vicious to clever in the blink of an eye.
Five performers play 13 characters in the hour-long piece; the title creature, Pumpkinspirit himself, appears only on video, deftly narrated and projected by Brendan Regimbal. A sketchy family of farmers tells stories, hurls insults, even dances at a wedding. Pumpkin seeds and slime collect underfoot, and a certain odor, familiar from childhood carving, wafts in the air.
"Ich, KurbisGeist" is funny, serious and scary at once, endlessly interesting visually and verbally. No retail plants are harmed; the troupe has its own pumpkin patch and was assisted in planting by volunteers from Goldman Sachs and Moody's. But the carnage, still spectacular, assaults all your senses. It's a perfect outing for this disruptive season: Hop on the 7 train and put your name on the waiting list.
If you go
Big Dance Theater’s ‘Ich, KurbisGeist’
Through Nov. 10
Wed-Sat at 8 p.m
The Chocolate Factory
5-49 49th Ave., Long Island City, 212-352-3101
$15 and up